Indian Foreign Secretary to Visit Nepal- Expected to Restore Bilateral Trust

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News Desk

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, will visit Nepal in November 26 to 27, 2020, amid signs New Delhi is keen to turn the page on the acrimonious relations it has had with its northern neighbour over the past year. Shringla’s two-day trip will add a series of high-profile visits by Indian officials in recent months and is seen by many as New Delhi’s attempt to mend fences with Kathmandu.

Shringla’s visit is expected to pave the way for a ministerial-level meeting. Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told, the two sides will discuss a range of issues, including the border dispute.  “We will discuss all issues on our bilateral relations. Because this is the first bilateral meeting [in] a year, we will not just focus on the border issue,” Gyawali said.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali

“A realization seems to have seeped into the power corridors of India that its relations with Nepal cannot be left unattended, even as it initially called the adoption of the new map by Nepal a ‘cartographic manipulation,” he added

“Nepal matters because of the broader security implications of the tension. India suffered a setback in Ladakh,” said Pramod Jaiswal, research director at the Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement in Kathmandu. “There’s a feeling within the Indian establishment that China is trying to encircle it in South Asia.”

The months-old allegation of a Chinese incursion into Nepal’s northwestern Humla district refuses to fade away, despite both countries denying it. Nepal’s main opposition, the Nepali Congress party, continues to demand an investigation into the matter.

In May this year, India inaugurated a strategic link road connecting Dharchula of the Indian State of Uttarakhand and the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China via the Lipu Lekh Pass, a Nepali territory which lies in the country’s north western frontier with China. This time also, Nepal protested and demanded talks to resolve the issue. However, India did not respond, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miffed with India for its unilateral cartographic assertions, the Nepal government issued a revised political and administrative map of Nepal incorporating Limpiyadhura, Lipu Lekh and Kalapani. India also protested against Nepal’s move.

The already-strained ties between Nepal and India further soured after Prime Minister Oli accused India of hatching a conspiracy to topple his government in June.

Later in July, Prime Minister Oli made a controversial remark on the birthplace of Lord Rama, which further worsened the bilateral ties between the two countries.

Amid frosty bilateral ties, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli held a telephone conversation with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on September 15 where the two heads of government agreed to resolve the outstanding issues through dialogue. As per the conversation between Oli and Modi, Indian intelligence chief Samant Goel and Indian Army Chief MM Naravane paid separate visits to Nepal recently to restore normal bilateral ties.

The Indian foreign secretary is scheduled to hold official bilateral talks with his counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal, and call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Oli and Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali during his sojourn.

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